floodedfdr.jpgThe New York Times is reporting that the city is on its toes for Nor'easter 2007, with Mayor Bloomberg saying we should hope for the best as far as storm havoc goes, but prepare for the worst.

The mayor said evacuations were unlikely, but in a cautionary move, city emergency planners have identified possible shelters in the highest-risk areas and have alerted hospitals and nursing homes there to be prepared to relocate patients and elderly residents in the event of severe flooding.

City officials have mapped out several areas most at risk for flooding, including the Financial District, Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive and the Lower East Side in Manhattan; Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn; and the Rockaways in Queens.

This is in stark contrast to the situation 15 years ago, when NYC seemed stunned that a December storm that was just forecast as rain and wind could wind up being so disruptive. We looked at what the Times was saying the day after Nor'easter 1992 and the lack of preparation seems almost quaint in our present post-9/11, post-Katrina frame of reference.

As highways, subways, airports, bridges and tunnels closed, as hundreds of people found themselves trapped in flooded homes and cars, as power failed and accidents multiplied and the city seemed to lose its aplomb in the tumult, Mayor David N. Dinkins toured stricken areas, mapped strategies with aides and asked New Yorkers to call 911 only in dire emergencies. He appeared on the three major local television news broadcasts at 11 P.M., giving a status report on the storm.

An official at the city's Office of Emergency Management said it had received a warning from the National Weather Service, but it "was not thought to be anything unusual."

(Flooding of FDR drive during the December 1992 nor'easter. Photograph from Bloomfield, et al. Hot Nights in the City. Environmental Defense Fund, New York)